Southeast Oakland County bike summit

A bike summit is planned for this Wednesday, December 12th at 7 PM in the Royal Oak Public Library (222 E. 11 Mile Road.)

The purpose it to provide updates on efforts to improve biking in Southeast Oakland County, primarily Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights and Royal Oak. There will also be an update on a new bike route map some of us have been working on. The Road Commission for Oakland County will also share their recent Complete Streets report.

The Detroit Free Press has this article describing the summit as well as this interesting story from Huntington Woods.

In 2010, Berkley and Huntington Woods residents who live on 11 Mile Road rejected what could’ve been a bike-friendly narrowing of 11 Mile during repaving from Woodward to Coolidge.

“We thought it would improve everyone’s property value along there, to have one lane (of traffic) each way instead of two, but the residents didn’t want it,” Huntington Woods City Manager Alex Allie said.

A road diet on 11 Mile would have had no affect on vehicle congestion. Some people just don’t want improved property values, less speeding, reduced noise, safer streets and a more walkable, bikeable community. The ebike used for our journey was the new Wayfarer Mountain eBike from Wisper – to view full specifications click here for more.

This raises the question of why do we let those who live along a public road limit how safe it will be? Isn’t safety more important than the opinions of some residents?

Apparently not yet in some parts of Southeast Oakland County.

Gran Fondo

The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) will also be at the summit to discuss their Complete Streets planning effort and proposed race/ride on Woodward.

The ride and race event is called the Gran Fondo, and while the WA3 boards, MDOT and others support it, Royal Oak’s city manager has come out strongly opposing it. The police chief opposed the ride because motorists speed on Woodward, will get road rage, and senior church goers will be confused.

Modeshift has excellent coverage of the recent Gran Fondo discussion before the Royal Oak City Commission.

Royal Oak’s bicycle ban

While the Royal Oak Commission did not vote on the Gran Fondo, they did move towards banning bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks. What the Commission failed to discuss is why cyclists ride on the sidewalk to begin with. Mayor Jim Ellison was quite certain it was only because they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.

Apparenty Royal Oak Commissioners don’t ride bicycle much downtown. If they did they’d know that the city’s streets are not comfortable to ride for a majority of bicyclists. They feel safer on the sidewalks. If they made any investments to make more bike friendly streets in the downtown, it would draw cyclists off the sidewalks.

Instead the City is proposing they invest in signs banning bicycles. We estimate it will take about 40 signs or roughly $6,000 to properly sign the downtown per state law requirements.

And contrary to what was said at the recent Royal Oak Commission, without these signs, the city’s ban on bicycle riding is not enforceable.

One thought we’ll share at the summit is these Southeast Oakland County communities are relatively more progressive than many of the other neighboring communities, but they’re much less progressive compared with the city of Detroit. For as much attention Detroit gets for having a “broken government” they are consistently more supportive and committed when it comes to being bike friendly.

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4 Responses to “Southeast Oakland County bike summit”

  1. John Martin Says:

    I see all kinds of problems with this article. Royal oak does NOT ban bicycling in the city. It does however ban bicycling on the sidewalks. Seeing as sidewalks are designed for pedestrian speeds, 4’/sec., as specified by traffic engineers, bicycles have no business on sidewalks. What you also did not point out is the fallacy of being safer riding on the sidewalk, rather than on the roadway where a bicycle belongs. What is really needed is an education program for anyone using public streets/highways (they are by law defined the same in MI). We have some of the worst drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians I have ever seen. As a regular bicycle rider, I can go for a ride and see numerous cyclists on the streets, not one of which will be obeying bicycle laws.

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    The article says Royal Oak is “banning bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks,” which is correct.

  3. Todd Scott Says:

    Also, I didn’t write about the actual safety of sidewalks vs. streets in Royal Oak – only the comfort levels some cyclists feel. However, a recent study found that while both are at the bottom of the safety spectrum, sidewalks are safer than major streets (like Main Street or Washington or 11 Mile) with parking and no bike lanes.

    This doesn’t mean I’ll ride on the sidewalks or promote doing so. It does mean that Royal Oak may be making their downtown less safe for bicycling.

  4. Andrew Mutch Says:

    John: Many cyclists, especially those that don’t ride regularly in the roadway aren’t going to feel safe riding in the street in the absence of facilities like protected bike lanes. Simply telling them that the street is safer than the sidewalk isn’t going to change their view. Communities need to provide facilities that meet the needs of bicyclists of all skill levels, not just those who already feel comfortable riding in the road.

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